What is the cause of obesity?

While there are many causes of obesity, including improper eating and not enough exercise, it still boils down to taking in more energy that one burns.

A calorie is a unit of energy. All foods have calorie content:

  • Carbohydrates (starches, bread, pasta, sugar/glucose) have 4 calories / gram.
  • Protein (meat, poultry, fish, egg white) has 4 calories/gram.
  • Fat (egg yolk, butter, oil) has 9 calories/gram (fat is fattening)
  • Alcohol has 6 calories/gram

If we take in more calories/energy than we burn, we have to store it, and we store it as fat.

What is the Metabolic Syndrome?

Fat that accumulates inside our abdominal cavity and coats our internal organs as we gain weight is known as visceral fat. This visceral fat takes on dangerous characteristics of its own, causing detrimental effects in our bodies, known as the Metabolic Syndrome.  This syndrome is associated with one or more of the following conditions:

  • Type 2 Diabetes, along with the potential complications of kidney disease, nerve disease and eye damage.  
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure), which may lead to stroke.
  • High cholesterol, along with high LDL (the bad cholesterol) and low HDL (the good cholesterol).
  • High triglycerides (the other fat in the blood)
  • Premature heart disease and early death due to heart attack

Rather than take medications in an attempt to control these conditions, it makes sense to eliminate the cause.  Lose weight, eliminate the visceral fat, and get healthy.

How do I know if I am overweight or obese?

Body Mass Index (BMI) – Doctors and weight management specialists use a measure known as the BMI, which takes into account your weight and height

  • Normal: BMI is less than 25
  • Overweight: BMI between 25 and 30
  • Obese: BMI greater than 30

The higher your BMI, the greater your risk for developing obesity-related conditions.

Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limitations: It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build, and it may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.

Waist Circumference – One of the simplest ways to measure obesity is by measuring your waist line circumference. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out. You are overweight and your health risk increases if you are a

  • Man with a 40 inch waist or more
  • Woman with a  35 inch waist or more

Everyone in my family is overweight, is my weight problem genetic?

The tendency toward obesity may run in the family.  For example, we know that twins who were adopted by different families at birth more closely resemble each other as adults than their adoptive families.  Although we may inherit the propensity toward obesity, it is how we behave toward food that determines our weight. 

Researchers have determined that approximately 50% of our obesity is related to our genetic background. The other 50% has to do with our behavior toward food, and getting control of our behavior toward food is critical to achieving normal weight.

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